Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
The Flower of Flame
By Robert Nichols
 
“Un amour taciturne et toujours menacé.”—De Vigny

I
FOAMLESS the gradual waters well
  From the sheer deep where darkness lies,
Till to the shoulder rock they swell
  With a slow cumulance of sighs.
 
O waters, gather up your strength        5
  From the blind caves of your unrest;
Loose your load utterly at length
  Over the moonlight-marbled breast.
 
There sleep, diffused, the long dim hours—
  Nor let your love-locks be withdrawn        10
Till round the world-horizon flowers
  The harsh inevitable dawn.
 
II
We watched together
  The sun-shaft pierce
The smoking weather;        15
  The hail-blasts fierce
 
One moment illume
  That waste so cold—
Irised sheets of spume,
  Wild welter of gold!        20
 
The gaunt gulls flying
  Were backward tossed,
Their cruel crying
  In uproar lost.
 
She flung aside        25
  Her fettering cloak,
Made of her wide
  Strong arms a yoke;
 
Calling, “Haste, lover,
  Outstrip the hours—        30
It soon will be over,
  This love of ours!”
 
Drove on my face
  Kisses like cries,
Gazed as to trace        35
  Light in blind eyes;
 
Broke with strange laughter
  Headlong away,
Before nor after
  Ever so gay!        40
 
III
        All is estranged today,
          Chastened and meek.
        Side by side taking our way,
          With what anguish we seek
To dare each to face the other or even to speak!        45
 
        The sun, like an opal, drifts
          Through a vaporous shine;
        Or overwhelms itself in dark rifts
          On the sea’s far line.
Sheer light falls in a single sword like a sign.        50
 
        The sea, striving in its bed
          Like a corpse that awakes,
        Slowly heaves up its lustreless head.
          Crowned with weeds and snakes,
To strike at the shore, baring fangs as it breaks.        55
 
        Something threatening earth
          Aims at our love.
        Gone is our ignorant mirth,
          Love like speech of the dove.
The Sword and the Snake have seen and proclaim now, “Enough!”        60
 
IV
The moon behind high tranquil leaves
  Hides her sad head;
The dwindled water tinkles and grieves
  In the stream’s black bed.
          And where now, where are you sleeping?        65
 
The shadowy night-jar, hawking gnats,
  Flickers or floats;
High in still air the flurrying bats
  Repeat their wee notes.
          And where now, where are you sleeping?        70
 
Silent lightning flutters in heaven,
  Where quiet crowd,
By the toil of an upper whirlwind driven,
  Dark legions of cloud.
          In whose arms now are you sleeping?        75
 
The cloud makes, lidding the sky’s wan hole,
  The world a tomb;
Far out at sea long thunders roll
  From gloom to dim gloom:
          In whose arms now are you sleeping?        80
 
Rent clouds, like boughs in darkness, hang
  Close overhead;
The foreland’s bell-buoy begins to clang
  As if for the dead:
          Awake they where you are sleeping?        85
 
The chasms crack; the heavens revolt;
  With tearing sound
Bright bolt volleys on flaring bolt;
Wave and cloud clash; through deep, through vault,
  Huge thunders rebound!        90
          But they wake not where you are sleeping.
 
 
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